Tingle creator now finds the character creepy, but do fans love or loathe him?
Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-03-15 19:40 JST)
Former Nintendo artist and designer Takaya Imamura recently tweeted, “When I look now, he’s creepy,” in reference to Tingle, a character Imamura himself designed.
Takaya Imamura is a former Nintendo developer who acted as the art director and producer on numerous titles and is likely most known for his work on the F-Zero and Star Fox series. He’s also famous for being the art director of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and the creator of Tingle, who debuted in the game. Imamura is now a professor at the International Professional University of Technology in Osaka while also working as a freelancer.
Tingle, a character created by Imamura for Majora’s Mask, is an odd middle-aged man that wears tights and dreams of becoming a fairy. Despite his age, Tingle is also quite childlike in his speech and actions. He’s a character that bundles bizarre and cute into one neat package and is still well known by fans today.
In addition to some mainline Zelda titles, Tingle even got to be the protagonist of a few games like Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland and Ripened Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love. According to Majora’s Mask director and current Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma, he wanted a “strange character with a balloon attached to their back,” and Tingle was born.
When a fan tweeted praise for Majora’s Mask’s Tingle, Imamura retweeted the message and added his own comment, which received a lot of attention. “At the time, I was aiming for creepy/cute, but looking at it now, it’s just creepy😅” The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was recently made available on the paid Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack service, so a number of fans likely met Tingle all over again and Imamura saw their reactions like the one mentioned above.
But there’s more to the story than Tingle just being “creepy” when considering the discourse that the character is hated in a certain region. To be more clear, there’s a strong tendency to think that Americans hate Tingle. For example, if you type “Hate Tingle” into Google, a page titled “Americans hate Tingle” comes up, along with forum posts asking why Americans hate the character. In contrast, these sorts of posts don’t really come up in Japanese.
If you search “Americans hate Tingle” and look through the results, you can see there are a number of reasons why Americans dislike the character. The biggest reason seems to be discomfort around him being a middle-aged man acting like a child. YouTuber Maverick Taylaa points out that Tidus from Final Fantasy X has a childlike side as well and wasn’t as well received in the West as in Japan. Some Reddit users also brought up the Triforce shard section of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker where players must pay Tingle large sums of rupees.
At any rate, the perception that Tingle isn’t liked as much in the United States compared to Japan is strong. Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland only released in Japan and Europe, while Ripened Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love only ever came out in Japan. This perception is likely why the games never reach North American players. Actually, since the release of Wind Waker, it seems like Tingle’s role has been getting smaller and smaller.
With that in mind, you might say Imamura’s comment does a great job hinting at Tingle’s current predicament. He also said he hopes the open-minded side of Nintendo that would implement such a strange character without hesitation in a traditional series continues on. But either way, Tingle is a character that has left an impression on both developers and players alike.
By the way, Imamura is also active on Twitter sharing memories about Nintendo, impressions of Elden Ring, and enjoying F-Zero X with fans via Nintendo Switch Online. If you’re a Nintendo fan, he’s a great person to follow.